I am flying into Santiago in November 2005, and was wondering what is the best/quickest/cheapest/most fun (I realise there may be different answers to all of those options) of getting down to Patagonia, and once there, is it easy to go hiking in Torres del Paine, and also see the big glacier park, which I think is in Argentina.
All guidance welcome!
The quickest way would be to fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas. If you are short on time, this is really your only option.
The cheapest way depends. It might be by bus (www.turbus.cl), however the bus trip is 60 hours. I have heard of people getting flights for cheaper than the bus fare, so you will probably want to check both.
Depending on if you like boats, one of the fun ways is to travel by bus down to Pto. Montt and then take the Navimag Ferry to Pto. Natales (www.navimag.cl). You will get to see some scenery (maybe, it can be cloudy) and met some travellers.
Hiking the park is easy to arrange once you are there. You need to have someone to hike with (no solo hikers), but there are many people to meet up with in Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas who are doing the park.
Patagonia is a fabulous destination. Not to be missed is the national park near Calafate and a visit to the Perito Moreno Glacier. I have used this site on my multiple visits to Argentina and their Southern Patagonia page is a great intro.